Megan Spink and Andy Fielden set up Bodega, in Christchurch, Dorest, in August 2016. Bodega is independent wine bar, wine merchant & deli in Christchurch. They are passionate about high quality wines from small traditional wineries with a focus on natural organic wines.
As part of the drinks menu they have recently added the Miss Witt milk hot choc stick following a visit by Andy & Megan to the Miss Witt kitchen workshop. The milk hot choc sticks have been going down a storm during the day when you may fancy a smooth warm drink to keep you going rather than a glass of wine.
Each month Bodega holds different events. As part of the World of Port evening, the last port to taste was Graham’s Quintados Mavedos 2004. This has a long finish with rich fruit aromas such as blackcurrants, blackberries and black cherries. This was paired with 70% Columbia dark chocolate shards. The slight acidity of the chocolate cut through the richness of the port making it the perfect drinking companion! Look out for future events when chocolate will be featured paired with different drinks.
Tha perfect pairing, 70% Columbia dark chocolate shards and Graham’s Quintados Mavedos 2004
I first met the founders of Pothecary Gin back in January 2016. We were introduced by a mutual chef friend, Ian Gibbs. Ian had told me about his friends Lukasz and Martin Jennings spending the last year experimenting with over 100 botanicals (def: a plant part or extract used in medicinal preparation derived from a plants) to come up with their gin.
To make their gin, the duo use fractional distillation where each of the 5 botanicals are singularly distilled, rather than all being distilled in one copper pot at the same time. This allows them to finely blend the flavours to make their unique gin.
The 5 organic botanicals which make up Pothecary Gin are Organic Lavender from Provence, Organic Black Mulberries from Anatolia, Organic Lemons from Sicily, Wild Tilia flowers from Poland and Organic Juniper from Bulgaria.
I tasted the gin for the first time in Spring 2016. Initially I considered making a G&T inspired chocolate, but this didn’t really feel innovative or unique enough. This was when the inspiration came from Nicole (Martin’s wife) and Martin to use the individual distillates. Because the fractional distillation process is used it allowed me to experiment with the different distillates to make chocolates to compliment the gin. You can imagine my excitement when I tasted all 5 distillates at 73% proof! Wow! Each had the most incredibly unique taste and aroma. The lemon distillate took me walking through a lemon grove, wild mulberries conjured up Christmas, wild Tilia flowers had the sweet aroma of honey and the lavender was so delicate & light. A real journey of aromas and flavours!
An added benefit of the process used by Pothecary Gin was the Black Mulberry mass that remains in the still post distillation. The founders of Pothecary Gin try to reduce wastage, and re-use or recycle where possible, and this thinking is what led to Nicole’s idea to possibly use the sieved extract of the distilled Mulberries as part of the chocolate, genius! A sample of the sieved black mulberry extract was sent to a science lab in Wolverhampton to be analysed. Nicole and I wanted to make sure that the black mulberries, post distillation, used in the ganache were within safe limits of copper as they are heated in a copper still for a considerable time. It turned out that you would have to eat over a kilogram of the black mulberry ganache to be over the recommended daily intake of copper in your diet, but trace elements of copper were found, bonus! Once the results came back I was so excited to start creating my recipe.
I immediately knew which chocolate would work especially well; the floral notes in Casa Lukers’ 70% aruca chocolate. The cacao beans which the chocolate is made from comes from Orinoquia region of Columbia. Don Elio cacao farm is on a piece of land formed by the two arms of the Arauca river. The cacao is grown between the valleys & mountains of this region. The flavour notes from this chocolate compliment the botanicals perfectly.
I knew the Mulberry extract combined with the chocolate would make an excellent combination. It produced a silky smooth texture to the chocolate. On heating the extract, I added the lemon peel. The scent filled my tiny chocolate kitchen and I could just imagine the flavours combining with chocolate, singing and dancing around my mouth as I took the first bite! Heavenly!
The Pothecary team had asked me to create two chocolates to go in their gin & chocolate gift set by now. The gift boxes were created in consultation with Print & Packaging Solutions Ltd, a local specialist in Southampton. Melissa, Martin and Nicole’s daughter, worked tirelessly to get the box to have the premium look and feel that would properly reflect the quality of the gin and chocolates contained within, and it looks amazing!
After a few weeks of experimenting I worked through some recipes by using different combinations of the distillates. By the end of August, I had come up with two bespoke recipes for the Pothecary chocolates.
organic mulberry ganache, infused with the lemon distillate & encased in gold 70% dark chocolate from Orinoquia region, Columbia
Lavender & sea salt ganache, encased in turquoise white chocolate from Dominican Republic.
The Luxury, Handcrafted gin and chocolate gift set was launched at The Country Living Christmas Fair in Islington, London, where they were extremely well received. The two chocolates are intended to be eaten whilst sipping the gin, as the chocolates are made with some elements of the gin rather than the gin itself. This sipping and eating gives a unique flavour sensation, is an innovative idea where gin is concerned, and one that is proving very popular. As the chocolate and gin gift sets are a collaboration, and not the main products of both Pothecary Gin and myself, they are only available occasionally. At the moment we are delighted to announce that the Luxury Gin and Chocolates gift set can be bought at Harvey Nichols as from this week.